FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2016
Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition launch to highlight community concerns about proposed low barrier housing project
Victoria, B.C. – A coalition of residents, property owners, seniors, parents, and others are raising concerns around the Mount Edwards low barrier housing project being proposed for the former Baptist Housing site at 1002 Vancouver Street and Rockland in Fairfield.
The proposal being put forward by Cool Aid society would see modifications to the existing building in order to house 101 homeless and at-risk residents, many with mental health and addictions challenges, with minimal or no onsite programs to help residents address those challenges. The Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition feels there are significant safety and neighbourhood impact concerns as a result of the project, including to nearby residents, businesses, and Victoria’s only remaining downtown elementary school, which is located directly next door.
“Homelessness and poverty are important issues in Victoria that need to be addressed responsibly and with the input and involvement of the community,” said Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition Chair, Emory Haines. “There has not been an adequate level of meaningful consultation with local residents. The community should have an opportunity to provide input and decide if this is truly the best way forward for the neighbourhood and the people the society is trying to help.”
The Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition is fully supportive of the city and Cool Aid Society’s goals of helping get people off the street, but these efforts need to be done in a transparent way that involves and engages the community and respects the needs of everyone impacted. This includes ensuring that those being housed are able to receive the support they require.
Specific concerns for the Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition include the location of the project itself, but also the size and scope of the proposed housing as well as the staff to resident ratio compared to similar facilities elsewhere. There are also questions about the City of Victoria’s possible financial support for this project given the site may not be properly zoned for this type of housing.
“We are asking all parties involved in this proposed project, including the Cool Aid Society, City of Victoria, to listen to the concerns being raised by community and give this location some serious second thought,” added Haines.
The coalition is also calling on all levels of government to put in place proper standards and guidelines around community consultation, zoning, site placement, safety, staffing, capacity and available support services that shelter and housing facilities would be required to operate under. This would ensure that all proposed projects are done to the highest standards both for the people they are trying to help and the nearby community.
About Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition
We are a group of neighbours, tenants, property owners, parents, seniors, and other concerned citizens that have come together to raise awareness, gain knowledge, share information with others, and to provide a voice around the proposed Mount Edwards low barrier housing project.
Chair, Mount Edwards Community Awareness Coalition